"People and Government Travelling Together": Community Organization, Urban Planning and the Politics of Post-War Reconstruction in Toronto 1943-1945

By Brushett, Kevin | Urban History Review, March 1999 | Go to article overview

"People and Government Travelling Together": Community Organization, Urban Planning and the Politics of Post-War Reconstruction in Toronto 1943-1945


Brushett, Kevin, Urban History Review


Abstract:

Most bistories of urban planning, urban politics, and the development of the welfare state have largely neglected both the existence and the importance of citizen participation in any period prior to the 1960s. The establishment of the Toronto Reconstruction Council/Civic Advisory Council in 1943, and the Community Council Co-ordinating Committee (4C's) in 1947, however, illustrates the importance of popular involvement in city and social planning during a crucial period in the history of Toronto and Canada as a whole. Organized by the local state both the Reconstruction Council and the 4C's tried to harness the tremendous surge of local activism and social idealism engendered by Torontonians' own attempts to tackle the social problems caused by a decade and a half of depression and war, as well as by their hopes for post-war reconstruction. Intended in many ways to manufacture consent for civic reconstruction plans, the agenda of these two organizations was often captive to the demands made by ordinary Torontonians out of necessity and self-interest.

This article examines Toronto's unique experiment to harness citizen and community participation in aid of social and urban planning schemes. It argues that the rise and subsequent fall of the community organization movement represented a crucial turning point turning in citizen participation in urban planning politics. The formation of the TRC/CAC and the 4C's represented a plastic moment in Toronto urban planning politics when the ideals of local democracy and citizen participation seemed achievable. However, the community organization movement foundered on the very divisions it hoped to overcome: class, ethnicity, and most importantly political. Ultimately the failure of these two organizations to incorporate genuine citizen participation in social and urban planning schemes, as the case of the Regent Park slum clearance and public housing project illustrates, haunted city planning politics for the next two decades.

Resume:

La plupart des histoires de la planification urbaine, de la politique urbaine, et du developpement de l'etat providence ont en grande partie neglige l'existence et l'importance de la participation de citoyen a n'importe quelle periode avant les annees 60. L'etablissement de Toronto Reconstruction Council/Civic Advisory Council en 1943, et de Community Council Co-ordinating Committee (4C's) en 1947, cependant, illustrer importance populaire participation pour les arrangements sociaux et urbains de planification pendant un crucial periode dans histoire de Toronto et Canada dans l' ensemble. Organise par l'etat local le TRC/CAC et le 4C's a essaye d'armer la montee subite enorme de l'activisme local et l'idealisme social engendre par Torontonians propres tentatives d'aborder les problemes sociaux a cause par une decennie et une moitie de depression et de guerre, aussi bien que par leurs espoirs pour la reconstruction d'apres-guerre. Destine de beaucoup de voies de fabriquer le consentement pour des plans civiques de reconstruction, l'ordre du jour de ces deux organismes etait souvent captif au des demandes des moyens citoyens.

Cet article examine la seule experience de Toronto pour armer la participation de citoyen et de communaute a l'aide des arrangements sociaux et urbains de planification. Il argue du fait que l'elevation et la chute ulterieure du mouvement d'organisation de la communaute ont represente un tournant crucial dans la participation de citoyen a la politique urbaine de planification. La formation le TRC/CAC et le 4C's a represente un moment en plastique dans la politique urbaine de planification de Toronto de le moment ou les ideaux de la participation locale de democratie et de citoyen ont semble realisables. Cependant, le mouvement d'organisation de la communaute s'est effondu sur les divisions memes qu'il a espere surmonter: classe, appartenance ethnique, et d'une maniere primordiale politique. …

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